ROCK HILL, S.C. - Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. will be the keynote speaker at Winthrop’s spring undergraduate commencement on May 7.
He will address nearly 580 students who will receive their degrees during the 11 a.m. ceremony at Winthrop Coliseum and will be given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
First elected mayor in December 1975, Riley is serving his eighth term in office. Under his leadership, the city of Charleston has increased its commitment to racial harmony and progress and achieved a number of initiatives. Among the most visible are the revitalization of its downtown historic business district, creation of the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. and growth of the city from 16.7 square miles to almost 90 square miles.
The city’s government has worked to improve the city’s quality of living on many fronts, including innovations in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children’s issues, the creation of parks and other public spaces, and economic revitalization and development. The city of Charleston is recognized as one of the most livable and progressive cities in the United States.
Riley has held numerous national leadership positions and received many awards and distinctions. He served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1986-87 and now serves on the group’s executive committee.
Given many commendations for his leadership of the community before, during and after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Riley has also been recognized as the first recipient of the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development in 2000 and for exemplary leadership in 2002 for using architecture to transform communities by the American Architectural Foundation.
Born in Charleston in 1943, Riley graduated from Bishop England High School, from The Citadel in 1964 and from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1967. He served in the S.C. House of Representatives for six years, beginning in 1968. He and his wife, Charlotte, have two sons, Joe and Bratton.
Winthrop will hold its graduate commencement ceremony on May 5 to honor the nearly 150 graduate students who will receive their degrees. The ceremony will be at 7 p.m. in Byrnes Auditorium.